Much Ado About nothing explores the unconventional area of love in that period. Shakespeare uses Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship to be exciting and make the play much more interesting. Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship is contrasted against Claudio and Hero’s and made to be more real; their love is more likely to last. Shakespeare is ahead of his time in thinking that women should be more feisty and less shy, his play makes the audience of that time ask questions like: ‘Which love is more real?’
Claudio and Hero’s relationship is a symbol of romantic love; the pure, kind and submissive Hero is always out to please the dominant, virtuous brave and also kind Claudio. Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship is totally the opposite however, it started from arguments between the two and Benedick never dominates Beatrice.
Beatrice is totally against love and marriage:
‘Not till God make men of some other metal than earth’ which is a contrast to Hero who is keen on getting married. Benedick is also against marriage and love. He thought his friends were too and when he finds out Claudio is getting married he is very upset this is shown by the long speech he makes and the amount of commas it is meant to be read quickly with emotion. He is very upset because his idea of living the bachelor lifestyle with his friends has been trampled on he says;
‘I have known when there was no music with him but the drum and the fife’ which illustrates this. Benedick and Beatrice being against love is only a complete contrast to Claudio and Hero but it shows they are hypocrites because in the end they both fall in love with each other. Shakespeare has made Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship more interesting than Claudio and Hero’s because they were both totally against marriage, they argued often with each other exchanging very rude insults:
‘Signor Benedick, nobody marks you’ and they both ironically think that they’re to good for anyone on the planet; Beatrice;
‘He that is more than a youth, is not for me and he that is less than a man, I am not for him’. Benedick;
‘One women shall not come in my grace’. Another contrast between the two very different relationships is the fact that Beatrice and Benedick have seen each other and talked before, they have known each other for quite a long time; Beatrice; ‘I know you of old’. Whereas Claudio and Hero have not known each other for very long at all and had hardly spoken to each other before they got married.
This is shown in the language because the amount of lines between them is very limited illustrating their relationship is not very stable therefore less likely to last than the more real relationship between Beatrice and Benedick. Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship is made more exciting contrasting Claudio and Hero’s by the use of Dramatic tension. In the garden scene when Benedick is eavesdropping on Don Pedro, Leonarto and Claudio’s premeditated love trap Don Pedro takes the opportunity to take a shot at Benedick knowing full well he would love to reply but he can’t or his cover will be blown which is dramatic tension. Their relationship is made evermore interesting and exciting by the way six ‘love gods’ who tricked their friends formed it. There are so many contrasts between the two relationships to make ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ exciting but there are little comparisons except that in the end true love is present in both relationships. Beatrice and Benedicks relationship is made more tense and interesting by the dramatic irony used in the masked ball scene. From the text we can see that Beatrice knows as well as the audience that Benedick is behind the mask but she pretends not to and insults him playing a game almost, saying:
‘I’m sure you know him well enough’. Beatrice continues to insult him
‘The fool’ giving us the impression that they talk like this often and it is how they got to know each other unlike Claudio and Hero. Benedick uses a powerful metaphor:
‘She speaks poniards and every word stabs’ to show how hurt he is by her words revealing he does care what she says and their relationship at this time may not be what it seems, Benedick is showing that their argument is just them flirting, getting to know each other and testing each others limits. He feels this time she has taken it too far, this shows that there are positive feelings between them at this stage.
The wedding scene is crucial, the action and tension are immense it proves that Claudio and Hero’s relationship isn’t that perfect, Shakespeare is revealing to the then oblivious audience that romantic love isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Because of how Claudio didn’t question what he had saw or doubt it in any way and immediately started being very hurtful towards her proves that their relationship isn’t that stable or strong after all. Claudio being the dominant male in his relationship with Hero is contrasted through the action of the play by Benedick who is on a par with Beatrice in their relationship. This is shown best when Benedick eventually accepts to challenge his best friend Claudio to a dual. Effectively Beatrice is giving Benedick an ultimatum between her heart and Claudio’s life because Benedick is clearly the better swordsman and would win the dual. The fact that Benedick chooses Beatrice’s heart over Claudio’s (his best friend who he has known for a long time) life illustrates the powerful love he has for her.
By the end of the play Beatrice and Benedick have gained; gained in self-knowledge, gained in having a powerful love for someone that they hold for you and gained in experiencing the wonders of falling in love, they have earned each other. In contrast to Claudio and Hero who have had a short and rough ride and haven’t really gained in anything except finding their true love. Claudio and Hero’s relationship is conventional unexciting, uninteresting, pure and boring but it’s what makes the main attraction, the completely opposite relationship of Beatrice and Benedick which is unconventional (of the period), exciting, interesting, feisty, ironic, funny and most important of all realistic. Their relationship may not have had a part for romantic love to play but it was realistic, it was Shakespeare’s eye opener to show the audience that maybe romantic love isn’t a lasting love, or a real love but it’s a short love that may not give you happiness.